To maximize revenue, many practices adopt what seem like practical measures to cut costs, such as reducing employee rosters or limiting upgrades and innovations. While these solutions may have some short-term effects, a long-term, patient-centered approach will produce better results. Focusing on patient satisfaction improves financial outcomes for providers. As patients take increasing control of their care and shoulder greater payment responsibilities, it makes sense for providers to accommodate their preferences as much as possible. A patient-centric approach enables doctors to retain and even grow their patient base, optimizing profitability.
Providers should not underestimate how important compassion and empathy are in earning customer loyalty. Physicians should take proactive steps to satisfy patients by ensuring a positive customer service experience.
Technology Platforms Encourage Patient Engagement
Patients expect to interact with providers through multiple channels, using information systems that "remember" their preferences, creating a more personalized customer service experience similar to the retail industry. They want to consult with providers at their convenience through messaging and email options.
Enhancing access to health information through electronic health records also goes a long way toward satisfying patients. According to a 2006 Harris Interactive Poll for the Wall Street Journal, more than half of adults surveyed believe EHRs minimize processing delays, coding errors, and administrative costs. Patients expect their care to be managed as efficiently as possible. Industry experts estimate that at least 25% of the time, charts are missing or incomplete, causing doctors to order extra rounds of lab work, resulting in higher costs and patient dissatisfaction. EHRs allow doctors to view patient information in real time and respond to patient concerns without wasting time navigating piles of paperwork. Practicefusion notes that, according to the Center for Information Technology Leadership, EHRs are expected to eliminate more than $10 in rejected claims per patient per visit, saving providers $44 billion every year.
Multiple payment channels that recognize patient preferences improve revenue collections and management. Patients want convenient, user-friendly options. In one study, 26% of patients accessing billing information online paid their bill within five days, a significant improvement over paper-based payment systems. The 2016 Billing Household Survey from Fiserv reports that the average American household utilizes more than three different payment methods each month. The 2014 survey reveals that customer satisfaction increases by 43% when consumers have multiple channels through which to pay. Furthermore, having access to mobile payment systems increases payment recovery by 60%. Hence, providers are more likely to collect what is due if they offer convenient, flexible payment options.
Some patients lack the resources to pay in full. Many consumers report higher rates of customer satisfaction when providers set up payment plans, especially when they allow patients to decide the terms of the plan, making them more likely to abide by it. Though progress is slow, doctors eventually receive what is due, minimizing the losses, waiting times, and costs involved in writing off balances or sending patients to collections, respectively. Here also, technology can be utilized to expedite the billing process, promoting better financial outcomes for providers.
Providers are sometimes hesitant to implement the comprehensive revamping of policies and procedures most conducive to satisfying patients. However, in subsequent years, healthcare industry experts expect current consumer trends to escalate dramatically. It is critical that providers who have not yet incorporated new care delivery models and their accompanying technologies take action now. If you need to make some adjustments, remember that you don't have to transform your practice overnight. Break the process into manageable steps, and collaborate with patients and staff members as you move forward.